Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Map the Meal Gap 2015 Study Indicates Food Insecurity Hits Close to Home

According to Study, 20% of Children in north central Minnesota Struggle with Hunger

GRAND RAPIDS, MN – May 06, 2015 – Second Harvest North Central Food Bank announced the release of the annual Map the Meal Gap study, which details the startling rate of food insecurity experienced by people in the seven country north central Minnesota region. Map the Meal Gap 2015 results reveal that overall food insecurity is highest in Koochiching County, where 13% of the population is food insecure and in Cass County, where 23.5% of children are food insecure.

“At Second Harvest we are constantly working to provide up to date solutions for all of the communities that we serve in our seven county region,” said Sue Estee, Executive Director at Second Harvest North Central Food Bank. “Findings from Map the Meal Gap 2015 helps hunger-relief organizations like ours better quantify the economic issues that so many of our neighbors deal with. We have continued to see an increase in demand at our member agencies and this study substantiates it. We now know more and more people are struggling to put food on their tables.

Take, for instance, Jenny a wife and mother of three children.  In the past she has only needed help from the food shelf during the winter months.  Both she and her husband work, but her job is seasonal. Her husband is currently on disability/workman’s comp due injuries that occurred while on the job. He is taking in less pay and they have a lot of medical bills to pay.  The family uses a lot of food from their garden in the summer and they live off the land when they can afford to hunt and fish. They cook whole foods because they are cheaper to buy and turn to the food shelf when there is not enough money to buy groceries. Right now is one of those times.  “The kids know when we have to cut back and try to help and don’t complain, but I know how much this means to us and totally appreciate it.  Some days I don’t know what we would do without it (food shelf) being here,” said Jenny.

Other local key findings:

             24,870 people in north central Minnesota are food insecure,

             9,430 of those are children under the age of 18

             The number of food insecure people continues to rise every year – the economy has not yet recovered for low-income households

Map the Meal Gap 2015 is based on an analysis of statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. The study, commissioned by Feeding America, is a detailed analysis of the nation’s food insecurity. An interactive map is available that allows viewers to explore the issue of hunger in north central Minnesota and across the country. The map can be found at map.feedingamerica.org. Second Harvest encourages you to look at the map and see how your county rates.

*Food insecurity is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s measure of lack of access at times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.

About Second Harvest

Second Harvest North Central Food Bank serves 115 hunger relief agencies in Koochiching, Itasca, Cass, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties. In 2014, 4.8 million pounds of food and grocery products were distributed through those agencies. For more information regarding Second Harvest North Central Food Bank, visit www.secondharvestncfb.com or call 218.326.4420.